AS the Philippines celebrated National Heroes Day last Monday to honor Filipino heroes and their contribution to the struggle for the nation's freedom, this holiday made me wonder who the heroes of the accounting profession are. I sated my curiosity by scouring the web for some of the most prominent accountants in history that most accountants may deem as heroes of their profession.
The world knows of Luca Pacioli, the father of accounting, who was the first person to publish detailed material on the double-entry system of accounting — a system still used today; Josiah Wedgwood, considered the first cost accountant, found the first accurate system for tracking bottom-line expenses and earnings; the famous financier and banker JPMorgan, who began his early career as an accountant on Wall Street; and Frank Willson, the accountant embroiled in the case that led to the infamous gangster Al Capone's conviction in Chicago.
Looking into the Philippine setting, the country has produced about 200,000 certified public accountants (CPAs) as of 2023. Among this number, there are undoubtedly those who demonstrated unquestionable integrity, contributed immensely to the advancement of the accountancy profession and participated remarkably in national development, very well earning the right to be regarded as heroes.
Some of the most notable Filipino accountants who were recognized and honored with the Centenary Award of Excellence during the centenary celebration of accountancy in the Philippines early this year included the very first Filipino CPA and founder of the now Rizal University, Vicente Fabella; businessman and former politician Manuel Villar; former senator and human rights advocate Jose Diokno; former Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas governor Felipe Medalla; and founders of pioneering public practice firms and universities, business leaders, esteemed educators, politicians, incumbent and former holders of office in government agencies, among others. It goes without saying that accountants have made great contributions to the nation and will continue to do so for centuries to come.
Be that as it may, they are not the only heroes of our time and profession. It may be bold of me to say this, but I believe we are all heroes in our own right. I've read a few articles describing accountants as the unsung heroes of our time and of the business world. This is on-point with what the Scottish actor and director Peter Cabaldi once said, "Real heroes are all around us and uncelebrated." This was made apparent during the Covid-19 pandemic when many tax professionals, auditors and accountants worked long hours to support and advise our clients to help them adapt and once again, thrive during the never-ending busy season we experienced at the peak of the outbreak even if it meant that we would get no rest the entire year.
I just find it a little sad that it's a bit hard to find news articles that praise the work that accountants and auditors do, while there are noticeably more articles about them being involved in audit failures and fraud.
Accounting is a noble profession, and I am hopeful that we can all be accounting heroes in our own right and make more people realize how rewarding and dignified our work can be. And as Christopher Reeve, American actor, director, author and activist, once said, "A hero is an ordinary individual who finds strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles." I am optimistic that there are many accountants out there who, though unrecognized, embodies the definition of a hero who faces overwhelming obstacles and still maintains integrity despite the challenges.
Laurice Mae Calantas is the quality assurance review manager of Paguio, Dumayas and Associates, CPAs (PDAC)-PrimeGlobal Philippines and a member of the Acpapp. The views and opinions in this article are the author's and do not necessarily reflect those of these institutions.